Preview: hints, allegations and things left unsaid...
hints, allegations and things left unsaid...
Lots of random stuff. Mostly about travel, music, books, art and philosophy.
A cock and bull story
Update: You can find my new photoblog at http://www.deepakg.com/. If you follow blogs through a newsreader, you can grab the new atom feed from http://www.deepakg.com/atom.xml. See you there!Today, the impudent moon once again tried; rather vainly, to eclipse the medium sized star largely responsible for life on Earth (and also perhaps, among other things, for triggering a long chain of interrelated events that spawned off the human species, which in turn ensured that I could write this blog post and digress). I say vainly because here in India, only about 1/6th of the Sun was eclipsed. The Sun must've felt rather apologetic for the duration of the phenomenon; for here it looked like a glowing cookie which had been bitten off by a teething toddler. The episode lasted for about 1/12th a day, and about 1/4th of the nation was in a position to witness it. By dint of some queer cosmic design, I had the misfortune of being stranded at home. I tended to the extremely taxing chore of playing a couch potato. I usually surf the WWW, but today I surfed the tele in the hope of catching the eclipse telecast live. I had expected Discovery and National Geographic to have exclusive programming to cover the phenomenon. I was mistaken. It seems that the channels are well cognizant of the fact that bored housewives (the only ones watching the tele at noon other than couch potatoes, drowsy overfed pet dogs and insomniacs looking for a quick fix) would rather entertain themselves by viewing the immensely engaging episode of a 5 year old soap that chronicles the predicable plight of a fictitious bahu set in an Indian household that they (bored housewives et. al.) are supposed to relate to – I guess for the same reasons that you would read Nancy Drew Files instead of Encyclopedia Britannica.The news channels decided to make up for the quasi-educational channels’ shortsighted programming omission. The entire bouquet of the 10 odd news channels that vie for your attention these days on cable, took up the subject in right earnest. As a mere celestial event the eclipse holds nothing for their target audience (bored housewives et. al.) and so most of them – the Hindi ones in particular, decided to color it heavily with astrology, mythology and the entire gamut of all that cannot be scientifically proven. They went to great lengths; like inviting astrologers that kept us thoroughly entertained with their balderdash, remedies for “ill-effects” of the eclipse (I can think of none other than retinal burns sustained as a result of staring into the sun directly) and other ignorant humbug while the moon zipped past in its orbit wondering what was all the fuss about.Anyways, a propitious day such as one today must be put to a good use. I therefore bid adieu to this blog and will shortly start a new one at deepakg.com. The archives here will stay for as long as blogger doesn’t mind them. And oh if I cannot blog regularly enough; blame it on the brain damage I sustained from watching the TV on a lazy afternoon.[...]
With the recent rains in Bangalore, I hope that we’ve simply skipped over Summers in the usual cycle of seasons. In any case Spring must be bidden adieu.
And thus; in a moment of Douglas Adams induced inspiration, so long and thanks for all the flowers!
My yearning for a few quiet moments to myself had taken me to Talacauvery recently. I got little quiet, no moments to myself and a few pictures. In retrospect, it feels that it was a yearning for some new shots that had taken me there. Perhaps one should seek peace within, or during those fleeting moments when the finger depresses the shutter, the ears cock up in expectation of the sweet sound of its release and the eyes make minor adjustments to the light hitting the retina in anticipation of a quick preview on the camera LCD.
p.s. Water doubles the crowd.
Taken on a cold day in London when the clouds and the weather (the two usually collude) could not make up their mind on whether it should rain or should the sky be allowed to sport a bald patch of blue or if the sun should be permitted to make its obligatory smalltalk.
To the valley of clouds
The last picture from my Chitradurga visit
. The day I took my pictures, was a bright and sunny one. In fact, the showers of the preceding night had ensured that skies were a pristine shade of blue that one rarely witnesses in a city these days. I will visit the fort again, probably once the monsoon rains start. That should surely allow me to capture the fort in a new light.
I had taken this picture while passing through Fleet Street on Christmas evening. I was held spellbound not only by the tall spire of this church, but also by the way it was illuminated by the dying rays of the weak winter sun. The radiance almost felt divine; as if the cathedral wasn't merely reflecting light, but held a luminescent source in its walls that was its own.
For the photographically inclined: A 17mm lens mounted on a camera body with a crop factor of 1.6x, would have never allowed me to capture the entire building in one frame; the street being too narrow for me to step back far enough. I therefore contended myself with a shot of just the spire - the sky behind being too irresistible to miss. I also shot the lower half (spire cropped) desultorily (hence the parked van which I now wish were missing), and for some reasons allowed it to linger on my hard-disk till date. Today, some two months later, it occurred to me that I could stitch the two halves up into a "vertical" panorama! The awkward distortion at the bottom is an artifact that arose out of having to "fit" two discrete pictures; taken without the intention of being sewed into a panorama.
I will admit without a moment’s hesitation that this picture was work of a handy accident rather than labor of conscious composition. A premeditated shot; on being viewed later, has the ability to transfer me back to the very moment in time (and space) when (where) it was clicked. I can feel the breeze, smell the smells, hear the sounds and experience the momentary stillness during shutter-release when the world ceases to exist. No such vivid memories flash past me as I look at this one.
I would have loved the composition to have been symmetrical. But if one could direct the course of an accident, it would cease to be an accident. In any case, had the shot been perfect, the temptation to proclaim it as a work that I had deliberately striven towards, would have been too high. The imperfection – for what it is worth - keeps me honest about my intent (or lack of it).
Now on a totally unrelated note, I am wondering, if Arjuna was a photographer instead of an archer, would he have worried about more than just the fish’s eye? I think he would have, because a nice bokeh is as important to a picture as what lies in focus. Would Dronacharya coach our ace shooter somewhat differently? Perhaps I am going kooky (there is this certain individual who would argue that I already was), or perhaps it is the result of writing this post after a tiring late night flight.
The remaining thoughts that dart through my head at the moment, in reverence to the title of my blog, are to be left unsaid.
West goes East
I have been fascinated by the ironwork on the roof of the glasshouse in Lal Bagh from my very first visit. And in case you didn’t figure, the title points to the laterally inverted E and W of the wind-wane.
Heavily post processed, because there is no such thing as too much blue!
I stood on my knees amidst a gentle snow shower to catch this shot. Every five minute or so the carousel will stop spinning to take in new riders. I would look at her freezing under the Hungerford Bridge, seeking her tacit approval for my indulgence. As another gentleman readied his tripod for the shot just a few yards away from us, she asked me, mischief floating in her eyes; 'have you wondered why this guy is alone?'
While I am alone today, this heart – unlike on St. Valentine’s Days of years before this, is no longer lonely.
Pardon my penury of words and hear the picture gently whisper...
fake façade - make believe
think of it as a dream -
when your very eyes deceive
and all your senses scheme
This picture is a continuation of the theme that I had discussed in my last post
. To me, it brings out the dichotomy of women's position in Indian society.
My friends often taunt me by saying “for Deepak to condescend to click us, we’ll need to be born again as a flower, a dog or a bird”. It is indeed true that human subjects usually don’t hold much interest for me. On those occasions when human subjects are involved (or are for some reasons, unavoidable) it is their juxtaposition with a non-human entity that I often seek. The human element is relegated to the background in the so called “grand scheme of things”.
There are various devices that allow me to achieve these ends. A shallow depth of field - which “shows” you the subject, without it being the focus of the composition. Distance or proportion such that the human form diminishes greatly - though it is still perceivable as human and is to be interpreted with the backdrop. And lastly, reflection – the sort of hazy, diffused reflection one sees in a puddle of water - though again the human form is still kept perceptible (if barely).
I hope to present this week, three such works – unfortunately none of them my best, but each one of them a demonstration of what came out of a conscious analysis of some of my pictures.
About this picture: I was focused (pun unintentional) on the pigeon when the girl made it into the frame. Sadly so did the truncated torsos of her family, which, had they been absent, would have rendered the composition far more interesting – but sometimes spontaneity overrules technique.
I wonder if this girl and this pigeon, will ever meet again!
Another picture from my Chitradurga visit. The picture has been touched up a bit to give the sky a dreamy feel (not that the sky on that day wasn't dreamy enough in the first place).
A starry night
We lost our leaves to winter’s blight
And got bedecked with strings of light
But what the heck just see this sight
A cloudy yet a starry night
Lal Bagh flower show
Lal Bagh botanical gardens in Bangalore to me are a sanctuary. Whenever the bustle of city life becomes hard for me to bear, it is here that I seek refuge. As you walk deeper into the park, away from its circumferential walls, the din of traffic diminishes to a barely audible whirr. If you listen closely, you’ll regularly hear the cawing of crows and rustling of leaves punctuated by chirping of other birds. Reading a book while sitting under a sprawling, old tree is a simple pleasure of life that increasingly fewer cities in India afford. However in Lal Bagh, years old trees and the often pleasant and mild days nudge you towards doing precisely this.
The extent of biological diversity one comes across here (even if it is by horticultural design), isn’t usually found (or sought) right in the heart of a busy city in India. This also allows me to indulge in my favorite hobby – photography. And there isn’t a better time for bringing your camera out than the two big flower shows that the Glass House in Lal Bagh plays host to; the first one of which ended on India’s Republic Day – 26th Jan.
Thousands of people visit the flower show (one conservative estimate puts the number to over a 100,000 on 26th itself!) and it pays to start early. While the show is a photographer’s delight, if you prefer a rake or hoe to a camera, you can also pick up seeds and gardening equipment.
This time, while I did pay my obligatory visit to the increasingly crowding glass house, I also spent a good deal of time outside; around the various flower beds bedecked with zinnias and marigolds.
A highlight of my visit however, was the many children I ran into – all of them most eager to be clicked. Often a lone child would walk over to me and timorously request me to take his picture. Within moments, his group would spot him and come running to be photographed. A good natured mêlée would ensue when everyone would try to fit into my frame, followed by a jostle to look at the just-clicked picture in my tiny camera LCD. The more enthusiastic ones would request a solo portrait but their equally enthusiastic coterie would render it extremely difficult, if not impossible. At last, everyone having seen their picture, would give me a generous smile and return.
My initial apprehension at being nudged and pushed around came to naught. The inhibitions of age and reasoning soon vanished. Thus on a bright and sunny day in Lal Bagh, my spirit soared.
On a cold, cloudy day in London, I came across a sea-gull that was as curious about me as I was about it. There is also a good likelihood that it was interested in the crumbs of chocolate-waffle being eaten by people all around me. Still; at least in this particular picture, it seems to be asking – “hey what’s that black thing slung around your neck?”
Heaven and Earth
While standing at a hilltop in Chitradurga I caught a glimpse of rows of these wind-turbines far away in the horizon. The lighting and other ambient conditions (dust, haze) were such that no amount of wizardry with the camera (or help from other handy accessories such as a UV-Haze/Polarizing filter) would have salvaged this shot. I clicked nonetheless; hoping that I’ll be able to post-process and redeem it later. I clearly went overboard – to an extent that I wouldn’t even call it a “photograph” any longer. On the day of reckoning, this one will surely get filed under “digital art”.
Now if I was asked to provide an aural accompaniment to this picture, I’d point the interested listeners to “Tu Bin Bataye” from A. R. Rahman’s Rang De Basanti.
Ready... Steady... Go!
St. Pauls’ cathedral again, this time, from
the millennium bridge. I cannot be blamed for clicking this one edifice so much – it was the first that thing I would face (besides the winter chill) the moment I would emerge from my abode in London. And it is such a gorgeous structure that I would often click till the remaining daylight (eveninglight?) would wane away.
If you look carefully at the picture, you’ll see that the façade of the cathedral is actually just a white sheet with the façade printed on it. This ensures that the cathedral continues to look wonderful (acceptable?) from a distance while the repair works go on behind this veneer – in fact had I not ventured close enough, I wouldn’t be able to tell!
You can also spot; besides the usual tourists eager to be clicked against the picturesque backdrop, a child eager to dart to the other end of the bridge.
Past Present Future
This picture was taken during one of my earliest jaunts to Lal Bagh with the new camera. A visit just a couple of months ago however, ended in a disappointment - for I hardly saw any flowers. Partly it was the incessant rains that we got last year and partly the fact that the flower beds were being readied for the upcoming Republic Day flower show. A visit last weekend again put the smile back on my face – I even caught my camera smiling (shh… it doesn’t yet know that I know it; it thinks that I was looking elsewhere).
Lights... Camera… Click!
This is the London Imax Cinema – a detail which is rather visibly printed on the somewhat ungainly structure. While I was fascinated with it (as should be evident from the picture), my friend thought a comparison to a can of paint most befitting. The bright light-trail was left by a double-decker bus that rushed past the camera while the shutter was open for three seconds. The “tilt” in the composition is owing to the fact that the theatre stands on a road that gently slopes upwards (or downwards depending on the end you are approaching it from)...
Between this world and that
This picture was taken at Gumbaz - the burial place of Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali, in Srirangapatna. The window looks into the chamber where Tipu and Hyder’s graves are. The intricate wooden frame stands between this world and that.
St. Paul's Cathedral
Another view of St. Paul’s Cathedral
from the south bank of Thames, shot when a small window of evening sunshine presented itself on the last day of the year 2005. For over 300 years now, the enormous dome of this cathedral has dominated the London skyline (those from Manhattan might consider the phrase ‘London skyline’ an excellent example of what one terms an ‘oxymoron’), something I read is about to change
When Motu met Meg
‘Magazines’ store at Church Street in Bangalore deals in, well, magazines. Here, in addition to a good collection of Indian magazines, you can also find back issues of most foreign magazines. Though one can locate magazines on lifestyle, movies, current affairs, technology, gaming, automobiles and photography quite easily in India, it can be a little tricky to get magazines that cater to less common/niche interests (at least from the commercial viability of a magazine standpoint) such as philately or western classical music. Imports from abroad fill in this gap. While dated issues of magazines on latest gizmos might not make sense, I would definitely lap up an eighteen month old issue of the Gramophone magazine that chronicles a 1965 recording of Elgar Cello Concerto by Jacqueline Du-Pré and throws in an interview with the lady herself on the complimentary CD!
The shop owner also has a few (I am told five) wonderful cats as his pets. If you don’t see them chasing a bright orange ping-pong ball on the floor, you’ll find them comfortably ensconced in the piles of – what else - magazines. Surprisingly, I’ve not seen the cats litter or use the magazines as their scratch posts. One of the tom-cats featured here; Motu, is particularly fond of the Esquire magazine. On the day this picture was taken, he was found resting placidly on an issue which poses a very pertinent; an almost existential, question to its readers – “Have you seen Meg Ryan naked yet?”